A Border Collie's Mistress' Place for News and Musings

Travels, Trials and Tribulations

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Whidbey Island Classic

Day 1:  We were second out on the field for the Open class. The out run was nice and the lift was alright.  We really struggled to put them back on line for the fetch.  He had to cover and hold pressure on his comebye side, it was a struggle on his weak side for 3 reasons.  First he was not totally square, second he was stopping a hair short and third he kept giving and was a bit off contact.  The drive was nice, he was a bit on the muscle and I had a tough time holding him off the sheep.  The cross drive distance was a little bit of a struggle but the sheep were moving right a long, which helped.  We timed out at the pen, we should have had plenty of time.  We lacked finesse.  We scored a 58 and finished 21st in a class of 47 dogs.  It was probably the best first run we have had, typically he is very pushy and I have a hard time holding him on our first runs.

Our Nursery run later that day was very typical of us a solid 70 and a class win.  I had a hard time keeping him off again, but better then the Open run.  He was super pushy and I thought about wrapping my crook around his neck as we turned to post, we lost too many points on out work.  Still wavy lines, but better.  He was much more comfortable with the drive distances.  He got a bit squirrely at the drive away panel and took the wrong flank twice, screwed up the 5 steps before the panel.  I hit him with a hard correction and he settled down and we fixed it and made the panel.  The pressure was hard to release at that bit.

Day 2: First dog on the field for Nursery class win score 73.  Just a real team effort, he was forward, soft and supple to work and stayed back off the sheep. Nice nice out work, good drive away line nice first 2/3 of the cross drive line, got wavy towards the end.

Our Open run was a tough go.  We went late in the day and the sheep were pretty much done playing.  The set ended up breaking back and getting up almost in the corner after I had sent Z.  He he covered them and brought them down the field.  The judge decided to take no points off for our out run and lift instead of giving us a rerun because he got control of the sheep nicely.  We struggled like heck trying to get them back on line, the draw was tough to the come bye side and his weakness showed.  The drive away was ok he kept trying to head them because they were trying to break for the exhaust.  The cross drive was alright, but at the 3/4 mark the sheep started to really lean on him and they ended up stopping and looking at him.  He walked in on every whistle, pretty much backed them up the hill and through the gate.  They pretty much went into the pen with out a whole lot of cajoling.   At this point a nearly peed my pants, we were going to get a shot at shedding.  Moved the sheep calmly to the shedding ring.  I saw a hole, but we weren't quite in the ring.  Then the sheep lined up , we got a small hole and Z came through like his tail was on fire.  He aimed for behind me, but turned briefly on the front group that was breaking for the exhaust. I called him here and he turned quick to the correct group and held them.  So big praises for the puppy.

Day 3:  Our Nursery run was gorgeous! He over ran a bit, but lifted nicely albeit a tad crooked.  We actually put the sheep back on the line right away and lost very little on the fetch, the drive was like and arrow. We scored a 68 with no pen.  It was my fault entirely.  I knew we were short on time so I tried to hail Mary the pen and I should have been more patient.  The sheep got away and Z recovered them, but time was called before we had another shot.

We have a lot of stuff to work on!  I need to figure out why I am losing 1-2 points on our out run.  I think we are a little flat and a stride too short on both sides although the sheep lift strait 95% of the time.Must sort out what is going on in our out run.  Have to, have to have, clean up the comebye flank.  Must also work on penning sheep that don't want to go in.    I am not going to work on too much driving distance for a while.

I am so pleased with my dog's effort.  He's going to get a small vacation before we start practicing up for our trip to SD.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Driving Practice

Yesterday at Fido's we worked mainly on more driving.  Gears, distance behind the sheep and off pressure flanks too.  There was an L- chute in the middle of the field and I stood about 100 yards away.  We drove them up to one opening and put them through.  Z had to actually walk into the chute to make them go all the way through, which was hard for him to figure out.  He was very willing to listen and be patient.  Once they were going though smoothly in both directions we pushed them through the L and made a tight turns  to bring them back through the opening they had just come out.  We played all sorts of games.

As for his gears, he is actually beginning to back himself off if he gooses the sheep.  These sheep sometimes need to be hit firmly to get them going.  He was doing a nice job of being firm and then backing off.  He's really finding the place he needs to be to push but not bang on the back of them more and more.  this means things are getting smoother.

On the second session we worked a little bit on out run and fetch.  I figured out the his come bye flank is pretty weak.  On the fetch or drive I can send him  360 degrees around a stopped set of sheep on the away to me flank and he is so square those sheep don't move.  On the come bye flank they sheep move.  He slices this flank ever so slightly, enough that the sheep move and he gets closer and closer until he's on top of the sheep.  After this bit of observation I stood with the sheep and we did circle drills.  I pushed on his face every time I asked for a flank, making sure he was square.  Come bye got neater, but still needs some more work.  We worked some shedding as a reward for the boring drill.  He did a nice job hold singles.

So this is what we have been up to lately.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two sessions to write about really quick

Ok on Sunday I went up to Susan Crocker's to work some sheep.  I met up with my road weary friend Jorgen and his sidekick Merckx.  There will a trial at Susan's the weekend of 6/19-21.  We worked groups of 7 sheep, each group had four ewes and 3 weanling lambs.  Things went well and the groups were pretty interesting to work.  The ewes were all savvy to the game and the lambs were being silly lambs.  It made for keeping the group together very interesting.  I tried very hard to pen a group and failed.  On my side I couldn't find the balance between enough pressure on the ewes and lack of pressure on the lambs.  Basically if the lambs were comfortable the ewes walked over the top of me and if I held the ewes the lambs moved to far away.  I was having the same issue with placing my dog.  He tried very hard and stuck with it, so A + on his end for effort.  Our earlier session he just did sloppy work and it was hard to get his attention.  We weren't really tuned into each other.

On Tuesday I drove down to Fido's Farm http://www.fidosfarm.com/ our sheep home.  The training on the whole was much better.

I worked Molly and she showed me that she is calming down.  I focused mainly on driving light sheep.  I put some yearling ewes in the ally and put her a long line.  I focused on getting her to flank cleanly to the inside and outside.  I also focused on flanking, stopping and walking up straight. She often tries to continue flanking(drifting out usually) even after the stop.  She was starting to get it toward the end of our session.

With Z I also concentrated on driving.  I really tried to keep him back off the sheep so he had space to flank.  We worked on his gears while driving.  I also set up situations were I was flanking him off the pressure to "correct" lines.  His fetch line is looking a little sloppy again.  I'm still having a bit of time getting a hold of him right away.  Once I get him backed off some he brings them straight as an arrow otherwise he flounders around behind them a bit and I end up over handling which makes a mess.  Next time on the driving I must aim for panels and drive them way past.  He is starting to take too much pressure off the sheep when they get near a panel.

Just a few more days until our first Open run!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ewesful Acres -5/31 Monday

Just went to the trial for one day.  Ran Molly in Ranch  and for Z it w as Pro Nov and Nursery.

For Molly is was a land mark of a day.  She waited her turn so well it was amazing!  Usually she whines, wiggles and squeals every time I walk up to the car before she has her run.  By the time her run is about to happen she's a nervous wreck, eyes bugging out of her head and shaking.  This time she waited fairly quietly all morning, and actually managed to go pee before her run.  While waiting on deck she stood beside me on her leash without wiggling and squeaking, most important no shaking.  Even our walk to the post was calm.  The rest of the run had good points, like stopping and she took her flanks down the fetch line.  Our drive was all over the place, but in general she had control of the sheep and she listened 85% of her flank whistles.  So back to training to boost her confidence.

In my Pro Nov run with Z I was not home mentally.  I was relaxed, but almost too much.  I need to find the balance between being in the zone with a little edge and being complacent. No points off the out run, I stopped him a tad short so we took a points hit on the lift, made the fetch panels (yes!!) and our drive was ok.  Need to work a on a little more space between the dog and sheep and some pace.  That's what killed our drive, too close so inside flanks were difficult and latent.  So guess we just keep doing what we are doing at home.

On the Nursery run we took a big hit on the out run, he came in too soon, but kicked himself back out.  This made the sheep wiggle while he disappeared behind the terrain again.  He came up behind them but had over ran and again corrected himself. He was deep enough behind to pull this off and only lose a bit on the lift.  Took the steady and took flanks well enough to put us back on line.  I got a bit more on his case for getting too close and pushy.  Our drive was lovely this time and we actually managed a pen with only one point off.  Very happy with both of us on that run.

Two things, I must work on his response to my steady whistle.  I'm not getting enough brakes and then I end up correcting more than I would like.  I also switched to my voice during the cross drive.  I don't like this, I want to whistle the whole time he's out away from me.  Save my voice for corrections.

I guess the first priority is to put a bit more brakes on him, just a little.  Also to get his stop working a bit better on the fetch.  It worked on the drive more often then not.  He's beginning to creep forward on his flanks at the pen, so this is something to address at some point.

I have 2 more weekends until the Whidbey Is. trial, so I have a few things to sort out!